Sunday 25 February 2018

Review of Armagh archdiocese reports ‘inconsistent filing’ and ‘lack of clarity’ pre-1995

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

The NBSCCCI Review of the archdiocese of Armagh reports that all current child protection concerns are reported fully, and without delay, to the police and social services.

But the reviewers were informed that there is little information on the receipt and management of allegations in the Archdiocese prior to 1995.

There was inconsistent filing, leading to a lack of clarity about how decisions were made.

Cardinal Sean Brady is praised for making a “commendable decision” to gather and document whatever information was available.

However the reviewers cannot be confident that the records of allegations made prior to 1995 are complete. The reviewers looked at a small sample of documentation from this period

From 1996, coinciding with the coming to office of Archbishop Brady, there is evidence of the emergence of a more focused and committed approach to the safeguarding of children and the development of a safeguarding structure.

The review also noted that there has been a considerable time lag in many cases between the time when abuse was alleged to have taken place, and the time when it was reported to the Archdiocese.

In a number of instances, priests were deceased at the time the allegations were reported. In some cases there were delays in relaying the same information to the relevant child protection agencies.

The NBSCCI said this may underline the fact that historically there has been great reluctance on the part of victims to come forward.

The number of diocesan priests in Armagh against whom allegations have been made was 16, involving 36 allegations of abuse. Of these all 36 were reported to the police while 33 were reported to the relevant social service.

All of the allegations made refer to the period between 1950 and 2000. Nineteen events are reported to have happened between 1950 and 1980 and thirteen between 1980 and 2000.

Some nineteen reports were made about events alleged to have taken place over thirty years beforehand, six have been made between ten and thirty years after the alleged event, two within five to ten years and three within five years.

The reviewers have been assured that the requirement to report allegations without delay to the civil authorities is now fully understood and embedded in the  diocesan safeguarding project.

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